After 55 days in the custody of immigration officials, Bangladeshi chemistry professor Syed Jamal has been reunited with his family in Lawrence, Kansas on Wednesday.
A federal judge ordered he be released while the Board of Immigration Appeals reviews the case. The Board stayed his deportation in mid-February, but he had not been released from custody until Wednesday.
The US government had argued against his release but the judge said: "What is the harm in ordering the petitioner to be under supervision and released to his family?"
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The courtroom, packed with more than a hundred of Syed’s supporters, erupted in cheers.
The scene outside the courtroom was that of an emotional reunion, as his family members hugged him one after another.
“Dad, I haven’t seen you in forever,” said his youngest son Fareed.
His wife Angela Chowdhury thanked members of the community for their help and support.
“I can touch him and talk to him. The children are happy. I can’t explain, I’m so happy,” she said.
Even after his deportation was stayed, Syed’s family had only been able to see him from behind glass during visits on Sundays.
The ruling does not change Syed’s immigration status and his attorney Rekha Sharma Crawford admitted that he as a difficult road ahead of him to stay in the country.
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Syed Jamal came to the United States in 1987 to attend Kansas University on a student visa, and went on to attain graduate degrees in molecular biosciences and pharmaceutical engineering. Later, he worked on an H1B visa for highly skilled workers at the Children’s Mercy Hospital, but switched back to a student visa to enroll in a PhD course.
He lost his visa status in 2011 but was allowed to stay on order of supervision, under which he had to check in regularly with immigration officials to obtain work permits.
A briefing on his case is scheduled for next month and the lawyers say that it could take several weeks or months before the Board of Appeals reviews the case.
Syed Jamal agreed that “it is a tough situation” and the family may have to reappear in the court for a prolonged battle.
But for now, he is enjoying the moment with his family, friends and home-cooked food.
This article was first published on banglatribune.com